WA’s grain storage boom

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Jenne BrammerCountryman
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CBH chief executive Jimmy Wilson and chairman Wally Newman.
Camera IconCBH chief executive Jimmy Wilson and chairman Wally Newman.

Grain handler CBH has revealed plans to build another 800,000 tonnes of permanent storage across rural WA in 2019, as its network strategy gathers pace.

CBH chairman Wally Newman said projects approved for construction in 2019 included new bulk heads at Broomehill, Lake Grace, Gairdner, Dowerin, McLevie and Wickepin.

Speaking at yesterday’s annual meeting, he said other sites were also being evaluated for new permanent storage.

That follows substantial investment in the network in 2018, when $212 million was invested in capital works and maintenance, including $130 million for 650,000 tonnes of new storage and upgrades.

Copies of the speeches delivered at the meeting said CBH had adopted a rolling three-year planning cycle to drive effective deployment of capital and to shape its network, which is refreshed each year.

CBH chief executive Jimmy Wilson said planning considerations included grower economics, global grain supply and demand, crop size and crop composition.

He said CBH had become a “smarter, leaner and healthier” organisation last year.

“Operationally and financially, 2018 was a year of solid results, as we embarked on the work necessary to transform our co-operative through our tactical plan,” he said.

“The tactical plan sets out our critical core focus areas and activities that will support our growers to compete internationally and maximise value wherever possible along the supply chain.”

He said a series of initiatives had begun to remove $100 million in paddock to port costs by the end of 2019, much of which would take effect by June 30.

Mr Newman said the CBH’s investments portfolio reported mixed results.

While Blue Lake Milling, Australian Bulk Stevedoring and Newcastle Agri-Terminal remained profitable, the Interflour Group had a poor operating year and reported a loss for 2017-18, of which CBH’s share was $10 million.

Interflour had started a turnaround plan, he said.

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